IVETA, by definition and charter, is an association for VET practitioners the world over. In other words, it is international. But, is there such a thing as international VET? Or, to put it another way, is it possible that VET is an international, rather than a national or local, phenomenon?
Depending on what measure you use, there are around 190 countries on this planet today. However, there are more than 200 VET systems meaning that in some countries workplace and vocational trainers and assessors must operate under two or more of them simultaneously. Given that the same vocational skills can be found in just about every country, the question of why there are so many systems, and why there are so many differences between these systems, is an intriguing one.
The answer lies in the notion of contextualisation. The purpose (as opposed to the objective) of all VET systems is the achievement of economic, community and industry outcomes, not just learning outcomes. And the quality of such systems is evaluated based on measurements taken of how well this purpose is being achieved. While most are capable of meeting the immediate needs for trained and qualified staff, in the main their ability to achieve higher level economic, national and business objectives are limited in just about every case. This means that the value of VET in my countries is limited to how well it may be applied in the context of where and how it is applied. But with so many systems in the world today it is difficult to understand which, if any, is capable of achieving such a purpose on a national or global scale. Evidence from some countries shows that despite having such a system in place for nearly a quarter of a century, economic outcomes and productivity is either static or declining. But, on the other hand, there are systems being applied in some countries which are extremely effective, even though there are certain aspects of all VET systems which are the same wherever they are applied.
What appears to limit the internationality of some systems is that they are so tightly regulated that their relevance outside of their own bureaucracy is virtually non-existent. This is even true within some countries where the VET system is ideal for urban or large industry employees but cannot be contextualised to the needs of regional and rural workers. As a result, a high degree of training may be carried out, but the skills and knowledge being imparted - and, more importantly, the competency that individuals gain - are often unrecognised outside of the immediate environment in which the training was conducted. Qualifications and credentials are not recognised between industries (and, in some cases, workplaces) or in other states and regions, competencies are not transportable across borders, and individuals must relearn skills and knowledge they already possess in order to meet new and often fast-changing regulations and standards.
But, is this the reason why we do not have an 'international' VET system, or even a system which is ideal for all workers and industries in a country or region? The fact is that we actually do have such a system, and it has been with us ever since the first generation systems were created in the 1990s.
When all of the peripheral aspects of most VET systems are peeled back, when the bureaucracy and regulations systems are scraped away, it is possible to see that at the heart of all VET systems there are many similarities. by defining all of the positive aspects of every VET system, and their potential to achieve both individual and organisational/industry objectives, it has been possible to create one single VET system which is appropriate to the needs of all countries. The InVETS (International VET System) has been created In order to better understand the potential of VET to be more than traditional adult and work-related training and education, and to bring some sanity to the skills and knowledge that trainers and assessors must apply if they are to meet the needs of their clients (ie, trainees and current/future employers) and the communities, industries and workplaces within which they work or seek employment. Organisations, industries, and associations such as IVETA can employ the InVETS as a benchmark against which trainers and assessors can demonstrate their competence not just against the standards demanded of their own VET system but of all others. And, at the same time, bring world best-practice in VET to the systems in which they operate.
More importantly, recognition that their skills and knowledge are at a level commensurate with world best-practice gives trainers and assessors the confidence that the outcomes they are achieve are at a higher level than those whose training is designed simply to meet learning outcomes.
The InVETS is based on many years' research and over two years' development, and its global relevance has been tested with experts and practitioners the world over. It is currently taken up by VET trainers and assessors the world over.
Phil Rutherford Ph.D